Did you know Polly is a nickname for Mary? How about Peggy being a nickname for Margaret? Or Nancy a nickname for Ann?
Did you know Pamlico County didn’t exist until the turn of the 20th century? Before that, the area that is now Pamlico County was classified as either Craven or Beaufort County.
When researching ancestors, we can be at a slight disadvantage when we are unfamiliar with nicknames that may have been common a hundred years ago, or with naming conventions as it relates to passing down a mother’s maiden name, or a paternal grandmother’s maiden name, and so on. Understanding how all of that works can help you understand why so many of your ancestors had first names that seem more like last names, and how you can use those clues to uncover other branches of the family tree.
It also helps when you know what a county was called during the period in which you are searching. You might spend all day looking for what became of ancestors who lived in Bath County in 1713, not realizing that after 1724, the county no longer existed by that name.
It can also be neat just to know things like how to calculate what “kind” of cousin someone is to you. Is it your first cousin once removed? Or is it your second cousin?
The links below should help you in your quest:
Nicknames and Naming Traditions (from TNGenWeb)
Naming Patterns (from Digging for Ancestors)
Formation of North Carolina Counties (from Catawba County NCGenWeb)
Cousin Relationships (from Fred’s Web)
Ancestor Chart (from NC Dept. of Cultural Resources)